You can measure a year a lot of ways — seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months (and those are just the obvious ones).
For me, it was measured in a lot of firsts and lasts. I want to list them, but I think over the last 300-some days I’ve been able to articulate the the hurt and sadness. But, I also have to remember the warmth brought on by all the good that was 2015.
This year created valleys and gorges in my soul, but it also built mountains — some big moments of my life happened in 2015.
As I began to think about even attempting this post, I also decided to look back at what 2014 was to me. I skipped that year in review, perhaps because it was also a year of extreme high and lows.
That was the year the doctors told me my father was going to die. It was the year I was leaving the comfort of academia. I also knew it would be the year I left behind the comfort of the Midwest. The Midwest will always be home, but in 2015 I found out what it truly meant to feel at home somewhere.
As I entered my first full year (2015) in the South, I found myself getting restless. I’d barely been making friends outside of work and the people I lived with. I wasn’t happy with my life, but I was happy with where I was.
I was in my early 20s and I was working in a job I adored.
So, in 2015, I made it my goal to make friends and finally fall in love with the life I was living.
In April, that got sidetracked by family, funerals and feeling sorry for myself. I found myself sitting in my childhood home back in Minnesota crying on my parents’ couch, wondering what a life without a father feels like.
It was something I would have to get accustomed, but even now, eight months later, I still can’t fully explain it. In the simplest of explanations, it’s like knowing you have a best friend out there that wants you to succeed in everything, but you can’t talk to that person, you can’t hug that person, hell, you can’t even see that person.
But, by April I’d started making friends in Durham, and from that point on, I rarely felt alone. I never had to worry about finding someone to get drinks with. I never had to worry about feeling like a burden for talking about my grief with someone. I stopped feeling lost.
I realized, I’d finally found what I’d be looking for since October 2013 — a home.
I found a home in the people and places I surrounded myself with. It was once I realized that when life truly becomes a mess, that you find who you are. You figure out that your valleys aren’t as deep as you feel, but instead your mountains are higher than you thought.
I wish I could remember the exact moment when I found that out in 2015. Maybe it was sometime in October, once I moved into a new duplex with some friends. Maybe it was when I transitioned from covering crime to covering government (wait, aren’t those the same?). Or maybe it was when I finally accepted the fact that I can’t change my past, but can have a role in shaping the future I want.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t even know the questions. What I do know though, is that having faith in yourself never fails.
So now, in my mid-20s, working a job I (still) adore, I think about what 2016 means to me. It’ll be the first full year where my nuclear family is only three people — my mom, brother and myself. It’s the year when I’m going back to Iowa to see some of my closest friends from college graduate. It’s the year when I finally take charge of what is going on in my life. It’s the year when I continue to surround myself with people who are inspiring.
But I think most of all 2016 will become the year I keep building on my sense of home, but it’s only just beginning, so I’m not going to make predictions, I have to do that enough in my work life.
As I drafted this post in my mind, a certain quote from “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac popped into my head:
Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.
I think that’s indicative of how I feel about the new year. And even though I usually only reference “On The Road” when I’m getting ready to leave a place, but I think now more than ever, it’s about living — Living, because that’s all we all really can do.
So, here’s to 2016, and what it can bring, and what it leaves behind.